Palestine has been under protracted occupation for over 50 years. The situation in the country is marked by a systematic denial of human rights and continuing conflict, often escalating in outbreaks of violence, blockages, and restrictions.
1.8 million people live in the Gaza Strip, making it one of the most densely populated areas in the world. 70% of them live in 8 refugee camps. 11 years of blockade and hostilities have destroyed basic infrastructure, service delivery, livelihoods and coping mechanism. Electricity, drugs, medical material, and trained staff are all scarce in the Strip. Furthermore, lack of access to the area is a constant barrier to healthcare.
In the West Bank, the population lives in a permanent state of extreme stress due to the proximity of Israeli settlements. Settlement expansion, settler violence, house demolitions, violence at the hands of the Israeli Security Forces are causing stress, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
Doctors of the World is working in Gaza to prepare healthcare facilities for emergency situations and to help them to better coordinate their activities. Nursing staff are given specific training in emergency care. We are also working with local NGOs and Centres to provide psychosocial support and mental healthcare, in particular to women faced with unwanted pregnancies.
In the West Bank, Doctors of the world works to improve support for psychological illness and stress caused by settler violence. In addition, we testify to policy makers on the dramatic impact of the expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian population and we lobby the Palestinian authorities to integrate mental health into the public health policy.